A Coaching Conflict of Interest

Business coaches focus on working with clients who own small to mid-sized businesses.  During the coaching process, topics include business operations, marketing, growth, and sustainability.

The scenario: While working with a business coaching client for over a year, the coach learns about how the company operates.  The coach partners with their coaching client to develop a long-term strategy for growth and sustainability.

The dilemma: The coach is told by a very close friend that the friend plans to start a new business in the same industry as their client.  Can this coach ethically continue with their client?  Can they ethically quit coaching their client?

Using the decision tree taught in the Certified Professional Coach program, the coach starts by asking them self if they can effectively coach this client.  In this case, the coach does some soul searching because separating the two will require discipline.  If the coach could not effectively coach the client, they would advise the client and refer them to a different coach.  If the coach decides they can coach the client, they then must consider whether the client could perceive the situation as a conflict of interest.  In this case the coach realizes the answer is yes.  The coach then informs the client of the conflict and lets their coaching client know that they checked with them self and feel confident they can effectively separate the client business from their friend.  The coach gives the client the choice of whether to continue the coaching relationship of get referrals to a different coach.

The ICF Code of Ethics requires a coach to avoid conflicts of interest.  If one arises after the coaching relationship is in existence, the Code of Ethics requires to disclose the conflict and offer to remove them self.  This process ensures professionalism and quality in coaching.

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